Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Soviet Union and the World, 1917-1991
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 18 x 50 minute sessions
Seminars / Tutorials 10 x 50 minute sessions
Seminars / Tutorials Individual 10-minute 'feedback tutorial' per written assignment submitted


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  25%
Semester Exam 3 Hours   (1 x 3 hour exam)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  25%
Supplementary Exam 3 Hours   1 x 3 hour supplementary (resit) examination  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a firm understanding of current approaches to and on-going debates on the history of Soviet foreign policy; demonstrate an enhanced understanding of Soviet foreign policy during the period under review and the internal and external influences at work upon it.

Demonstrate an understanding of the longer term historical questions of continuity and discontinuity in Russian foreign policy and the nature of Russian relations with other great powers

Demonstrate an ability to use and reflect critically upon a range of relevant primary and secondary material.

Demonstrate an ability to collect and analyse relevant historical evidence to produce appropriate arguments both oral (not assessed) and written.

Demonstrate an ability to work independently and collaboratively.

Brief description

The Soviet Union stood as a state at odds with others throughout much of the twentieth century. As a revolutionary state, other powers viewed the Soviet Union as aggressively expansionist, dangerous, and difficult to deal with. The Soviets held much the same view of the capitalist world, and in the second half of the twentieth century the Soviet Union and the United States were locked in the Cold War. This module examines the content and conduct of the foreign policy of the Soviet Union and its relationship with other states. Beginning with an overview of late Russian imperial foreign policy, the module examines the impact of the Russian Revolution and the rise of the Bolsheviks on the relationship between Russia and the rest of the world, how security was sought in a challenging interwar world, the development and origins of the Cold War, foreign policy after Stalin'r death, and the demise of Soviet power under Gorbachev. Themes addressed include continuity and change in foreign policy, ideology, the export of revolution, diplomacy, intelligence, anti-fascism, imperialism, conflict, reform, arms control, and ultimately the loss of power in the 1980s.


1. Introduction: Russian Foreign Policy in late Russian Empire
2. The Russian Revolution and the World
3. Capitalist Encirclement: the Russian Civil War and Foreign Intervention
4. World Revolution and Normalization, 1919-1923
5. Socialism in One Country and the Third Period
6. The Soviet Union and Nazi-Germany, 1933-1941
7. The Soviet Union and the Far Eastern Crisis, 1931-1941
8. The Soviet Union and the Anglo-French Entente in the 1930s
9. Soviet Intervention in the Spanish Civil War
10. The Great Patriotic War
11. The Grand Alliance
12. Birth of the Soviet Superpower: Stalin and the Onset of the Cold War, 1945-1953
13.The Soviet Union, Communist China and the Korean War, 1949-1953
14. Foreign Policy after Stalin's Death: challenges and responses
15. Khrushchev, Peaceful Coexistence and the Cuban Missile Crisis
16. Brezhnev, Developed Socialism and Detente
17. Gorbachev and the Demise of the Soviet Union
18. Russian Foreign Policy in the 1990s

1. Introduction: the Soviet Union and the World
2. The Russian Revolution and Foreign Reactions
3. Revolution or Diplomacy?
4. Foreign Policy Changes, 1925-1933
5. The Challenge to the Soviet Union from Germany and Japan
6. Collective Security and its Failure
7. The Soviet Union and the Grand Alliance
8. The Birth of the Soviet Empire in the Post-War World
9. The Backlash: Hungary 1956 and Czechoslovakia 1968
10. Brinkmanship and Solutions

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be encouraged to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Identify problems and factors which might influence potential solutions; develop creative thinking approaches to problem solving; evaluate advantages and disadvantages of potential solutions.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills Students will develop an awareness of appropriate sources and historical literature associated with study of twentieh-century foreign policy.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities..


This module is at CQFW Level 6